Monday, December 21, 2015

Season's Greetings

I have been feeling more and more disconnected from Christmas for a few years now. This seemed weird at first, because I used to love it. And of course, I started seeing all of the angry posts on Facebook from people demanding to be wished a merry Christmas instead of any other greeting. It struck me that this hostility and childishness could be one reason I was getting tired of the whole thing. It was never a religious holiday for me, so it wasn't that. I did not even fit into the cultural celebration that is Christmas for most people, because I was in my very early 20s when I made a conscious decision, as a young wife and mother, to not buy into the commercialism .Of course we bought gifts--modest ones. Our daughter was fine getting used books from Powell's for Christmas. For her Christmas morning was always the least of the celebration anyway. We had to wake her up some years so we could get the Christmas morning activities done in enough time to get somewhere or prepare for guests. It was a lot easier all around when we moved across the country and had no obligations for the holiday, except to each other. We planned it as a low key family day and declined invitations. In the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas we listened to Christmas music, watched certain holiday specials on TV (usually from the VCR tapes we'd made, with the commercials edited out), baked cookies and cinnamon rolls, enjoyed the decorations and twinkling lights and I made ornaments and stuff. It was very low stress and simply peaceful and fun.

Over the years I have known people who are really into solstice. Some of these folks are indifferent to Christmas and some have really bad childhood memories and loathe it. I considered the solstice thing for myself, but realized that what they love about solstice and what is always the focus of everything I hear and read about it, is the return of the light. This is exactly the thing that depresses me about solstice--I love the fact that there is more darkness than on any other day, but I am sad that it is now over and the light will start coming back.I get rather sad at this time of year and by March or April, I am depressed because it is spring. So, while I appreciate the darkness of a winter solstice, it doesn't really work as a ritual time or celebration for me. But in thinking about this, I did figure it out. For me this time of year is a celebration of autumn and winter. I am most content, peaceful, happy, and feel at my best in October, November, and December. So my "celebration" happens then. Christmas Day is pretty much the end of that, only because that is the culturally agreed upon winter celebration day.

As it happened, this lack of interest in how Christmas is done coincided with our move here, which included us leaving all our Christmas stuff behind and starting over. As I looked around, I realized that instead of stockings and Santas, we have gravitated towards snowmen and women and I have started to think a lot about trees as a creative focus. Looking at the ornaments I made last year and this, I see that they are all about the natural world--floral, trees, snowpeople, snowflakes, and stuff like that. Twigs are really popular here and I really like that. A friend collected a bunch of sticks and twigs with moss and lichens growing on them and we have those in an arrangement outside, and some inside. We have a branch that she brought outside with wool ornaments on it. She got me an arrangement of twigs with orange slices and berries. I hung some tiny ornaments on that.

It is a far cry from the things we used to have dripping from every available surface at Christmas time--we collected so much in the 3+ decades of our marriage. I made a few more things each year and people gave us so much. Even though we gave away some over the year, going from 6 large boxes (for 3 of us) to nothing to a small bag now (for two of us), in between it seemed like we had way too much!

I am glad to have figured this out, simply because it was a little sad and like I was missing something that used to be important to me. Now that I know what I am really celebrating, I can do it in ways that make sense for me.

So, the most appropriate way to wish me well at this time of year would be "Season's Greetings!" I won't go around demanding that though! "Merry Christmas" is lovely. "Happy Holidays" is just dandy.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's a great time, filled with lots of health, happiness, and love.

Oh yeah, have a happy solstice, too :-)

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